The turning point came when our daughters left for college. Though two sons were still at home, I was overwhelmed with an emptiness that accompanies being an empty-nester. Sadness set in as I questioned my life purpose beyond child-rearing. In desperation, I cried out to God, “How do I fill this void?”
Our heartfelt cries touch the heart of God, as He patiently waits for us to reach out to Him. He responded by putting two people in my path. A woman with a passion for Him and a four-year-old boy. Through these two people, God changed my life and impacted my family and community in unimaginable ways.
The passionate woman had a knack for recognizing God’s activity. Her inspirational stories planted within me a desire to know this intimate Father. Her communication with Him was not just a list of things she wanted; it seemed she had a relationship with Him that involved speaking and listening. Was it possible I could somehow tune my spirit to hear God’s voice and promptings? I prayed, “Lord, if you are real, open my spirit to recognize and hear your voice.”
What about the four-year-old boy? Though the daughters were away at college, our sons filled the empty home with friends. One day, we met a neighborhood boy who fit into our family dynamics. After a few visits, I learned his mom was on dialysis due to kidney failure. As I observed the hardships associated with this disease, I prayed for God to bring healing. Little did I know His plan for healing involved me, and the introduction to the passionate woman and the four-year-old boy pointed me in the direction of purpose.
One day, as I prayed for this family, there was a prompting in my spirit … a tug on my heart. This was a new “feeling.” Along with the tug, a phrase entered my mind, not of my own thoughts. “You have a kidney for her. I have brought you to Texas to gift your neighbor with life.”
This prompting from God sent me into battle against an army of doubt. I fought back by researching the risks and dangers of being a live kidney donor. I talked to my husband to get his blessing. I approached my neighbor, asking for permission to be tested to see if I were a match for being her donor. Step by step, God confirmed His calling that I was His vessel for bringing healing to this family. Through this process, I came to know God as an intimate, loving Father who speaks through words, promptings and tugs, and by placing people in our path to be our directional signs.
The story of the kidney donation is miraculous. After being tested, interviewed, poked and prodded, it was deemed I was not only a match with my neighbor, but we were such a close match, it was as if we were siblings. As we waited for surgery to take place, our family, friends and neighborhood poured out support. Prayer groups were birthed to pray us through surgery. A group of women started a neighborhood Bible study to learn how to draw near to Christ and recognize His voice and promptings. God used the miracle of a kidney donation to draw eyes toward Him – the God of miracles.
Never underestimate how an act of obedience to God impacts the lives of family, friends, neighborhood and church. Pleading with God, “Let me know you are real,” changed my spiritual landscape. Faith went from believing in my head to knowing in my heart. It shifted from following a set of man-made rules to wanting to know God’s ways by spending time in His Word. My life moved from living from the outside in, to living from the inside out. The faith journey begins in the heart.
Don’t miss this. God is always at work behind the scenes of our life. We do not serve a God who hides from us, who looks for ways to punish us or who holds our sins against us. We serve a God who desires to walk with us, to direct our path, to bring us peace and to give us freedom from emptiness and sin. Letting go of man-made rules and doctrine and seeking an intimate relationship with God changes a life forever. It impacts passion and purpose for all eternity.
You can reach out to God. Ask Him to make Himself known to you. Then, watch and wait. He does not disappoint. In Jeremiah 29:13, the Lord says, “When you seek me you will find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Hear this encouragement: my spiritual awakening came through the emptiness of missing my daughters. God’s answer came through a friend my sons brought into our home. I would have missed this opportunity had I not paid attention to the people in my path and the promptings from God. Faith based on emotion and man-made rules only serves those who are satisfied with the status quo. Faith based on a desire to know God, to walk with Him and pay attention to His promptings and guidance, impacts lives for eternity. Better still, it impacts the lives of our children, our neighborhood, our community and our world. The greatest gift we can give our children, our spouse and our extended family is the gift of faith — faith that impacts them now and in the future.
Pay attention to those God brings into your path. Heed the promptings and tugs of your heart. Invite God into your day-to-day circumstances. And be encouraged. God sees you, He knows you and He has a plan and purpose for your life. And relax … He does not ask everyone to donate organs to strangers, but He does ask us to love others and He invites us to spend time in His presence! There is no better place to be.
Mary Ethel Eckard is the co-founder of Dragonfly Ministries, author of “The Making of a Dragonfly, Following Christ Through the Winds of Change” and “Lessons of a Dragonfly, Forty Days to a Transformed Life.” She attends Hope Fellowship Church and resides in Frisco.